When I was a young boy, my late sainted mother taught me the importance of writing prompt thank you notes. But it was a mentor I had 25 years ago that ingrained in me an even higher appreciation for old-fashioned note-writing.
This morning’s CBS Television program, “Sunday Morning,” featured a story by correspondent Steve Hartman about 53-year old Los Angeles lawyer John Kralik who wrote a book I wished I’d thought to write. But then Kralik’s book, a kind of memoir, was inspired by a life-altering event following a particularly melancholic period in his life.
Kralik’s inspiration was born of life in a tiny, drafty apartment, a failing law firm and the throes of a painful second divorce. He was also estranged from his grown kids, had put on 40 lbs and to top things off, his girlfriend had broken up with him. On second thought, I’ll take a pass on his brand of inspiration. With such misfortune, had he had a dog, he might have been bitten.
In the middle of such gloom and doom, what was the transformative event that inspired Kralik to write his book,“365 Thank Yous, The Year a Simple Act of Gratitude Changed My Life” ? It was the act of writing a thank you note to his ex-girlfriend.
This inspired him to then write successive one-a-day thank you note cards. He decided to thank not only clients but his daughter’s piano teacher, his hair stylist, the “Starbucks” Barista and at least one person per day meriting his gratitude the rest of that year. This changed his life so much that he wrote a book about it.
The power of thanks.
Such transmogrifying power of gratitude recalls what happiness experts and those ‘random acts of kindness‘ folks and smiley-faced pop psychologists have long prescribed as the way to sustain lifetime happiness. More than a generation ago, they advocated happy-life recipes like sincerely complimenting three persons every day.
Of course, for curmudgeons-in-training, cynical lawyers, or inveterate violators of what Robert Sutton wrote about in “The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t,” 3-per-day complimenting may prove difficult. Still, the key is sincerity or at least sincere insincerity.
As for note card writing, CBS Correspondent Hartman remains no fan of it. Speaking of handwritten thank you cards, he prefers our wired era that’s “paperless and mannerless.” See his report at “Handwritten Thank You Notes.”
But kudos anyway to John Kralik for overcoming adversity and for thinking to write his book. He’s also helped support the regrettably dying art of handwritten thank yous.
And as a postscript ‘moral to the story,’ John Kralik’s virtue had its just reward. He successfully slipped away from his grinding solo/small firm practitioner’s life. He is now the Hon. John Kralik, a judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court.